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Full text of "The Loom Of Language"

Introduction                          41
out of it as a self-educator, the wisest plan is to read it through quickly
After getting a bird's-eye view, the reader can then settle down to
detailed study with pen, paper, and a book-marker for reference
backwards or forwards to tables printed in some other context, as
indicated by the cross-references throughout the succeeding chapters.
Pen (or pencil) and paper are essential helps We are most apt to forget
what we take in by ear, least likely to forget what we learn by touch
No one who has learned to swim or cycle forgets the trick of doing so
The languages which we shall study in greatest detail to illustrate the
way in which languages giow belong to the Teutonic and Romance
groups, placed in the great Indo-European family The latter also con-
tarns the Slavonic group to which Russian belongs, the Celtic^ in which
Welsh and Erse are placed, and the Indo-Iraman group, which includes
Persian and numerous languages of India The Teutonic group is made
up of German, Dutch, and the Scandinavian dialects The Romance
languages, such as French, Portuguese, Spanish, and Italian, are all
descendants of Latin English is essentially a Teutonic language which
has assimilated an enormous number of woids of Latin origin So
Teutonic or Romance languages have most in common with English
Fortunately for us they include all the languages spoken by the nearest
neighbours of English-speaking peoples on the continents of Europe
and America.
The reader, who has not yet realized how languages, like different
species of animals or plants, differ from and resemble one another, will
find it helpful to browse among the exhibits set out as tables throughout
The Loom. Above all, the home student will find it ^helpful to loiter in
the corridors of the home museum which makes up the fourth part of
the book On its shelves there is ample material for getting clear insight
into the characteristics which French, Spanish, and Itahan share with
their Latin parent, as also of features common to the Teutonic family.
One shelf of exhibits shows Greek words which are the bricks of an
international vocabulary of technical terms in the age of hydroelectricity
and synthetic plastics The diversion which the reader of the Loom
can get from noticing differences and detecting essential word simi-
larities in adjacent columns in the light of laws of language growth
set forth elsewhere (Chapters V and VI) will help to fix items of an
essential vocabulary with a minimum of tedium and effort
One of the difficulties which besets the home student who starts to
learn a new language is the large number of grammatical terms used in
most text-books. The object of the four chapters that follow is to show